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ISIS threat: America ignores growing anarchy in Iraq at its peril

by Charles Duelfer and Judith Miller
Fox News
October 15, 2014

http://www.judithmiller.com/15506/isis-iraq-anarchy

A very prominent Iraqi –a former senior official and ambassador, now out of Iraq — called the other day to relay the urgent dilemma of his cousins, who live outside Haditha, a Sunni stronghold in western Iraq.

Haditha is the site of a critical dam across the Euphrates that was in U.S. news a month ago when it became a priority for U.S. airstrikes after ISIS seized it. After Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. air strikes, pushed the militant jihadis back, U.S. attention shifted. But ISIS is back, now threatening Haditha.

The dam itself is defended by the Iraqi Army. The surrounding area is defended — to the extent it can be — by local Sunni tribal groups.

Largely unreported is the underlying rot of an Iraq without government. Thugs and violent criminal gangs who seek to profit in the lawless interlude before ISIS returns are running rampant. They maraud among inhabitants.

Local tribes are conserving their limited force to defend the town itself against ISIS. Unless they see some evidence or hope of support from the U.S. or the Iraqi government, they will not intervene. No such word has been forthcoming. The tribal defenders are alone on the ground.

Hence the phone call. His family members near Haditha were threatened with death unless payment of exorbitant sums were made. They had five days to come up with the money.

There is no reason to doubt the veracity of this story. Life is cheap in Iraq and taking it has no consequences.

We saw the same pattern play out when chaos erupted in Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion in April-May, 2003. Gangs of thugs committed atrocities without restraint. Their incentives were money or drugs or simply because they could.

So the plea from the Iraqi was this: “Can’t a senior U.S. official simply contact the tribal leaders and say, ‘Yes, the U.S. wants them to broaden their control,’ if only just to rein in the criminals? Or, can’t Washington press the Iraq government to convey such a message?”

Despite the diplomatic capital spent building an international consensus, largely around airstrikes, the people who matter are those on the ground. They are the ones dying. And they will continue to die unless someone other than ISIS manages to take and hold ground and restore order.

This man’s relatives would surely have been killed if he hadn’t been able to muster the ransom money. There are similar cases throughout Iraq. But each submission to such extortion chips away at what remains of the fabric of a functioning society. At this point, many Iraqis would rather have ISIS than anarchy. Even Saddam looks good by comparison, the Iraqi told us.

Neither the U.S. nor its coalition can succeed if Iraqis conclude that only ISIS is capable of assuring security.

After the “surge” of U.S. forces in 2008, desperate Iraqis could turn to American soldiers for protection and financial support. But President Obama’s bootless strategy offers them neither.

Absent popular Iraqi support, the new American-backed Iraqi government in Bagdad will also surely fail, and Obama’s half-hearted about-face will have been for naught.

The prospective loss of the Kurdish Syrian city of Kobani coupled with the growing insecurity of life in much of Iraq are devastating tactical and psychological defeats for the new U.S.-led coalition in the eyes of all Iraqis, especially Sunnis whose allegiance

Obama is trying to win again. America once again denies the growing anarchy within Iraq at its peril.

Charles Duelfer is the former head of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group, which debriefed Saddam Hussein, and former deputy chief of the UN weapons inspectors in the 1990s. Judith Miller, a Fox News contributor, is an award-winning writer and author. She spent 85 days in jail in the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia in 2005 to protect confidential sources. She is the author of a forthcoming memoir.

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From the Long War Journal

Islamic State photos highlight group’s grip on Ramadi

Abu Aytha 3.jpg

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Ashley Giorgi out front with the band Cookies: Music for Touching

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Belgium Prosecutes Lead Jihadists Recruiting for ISIS

Courtesy of The Clarion Project (www.clarionproject.org):

Belgium’s largest-ever terrorism trial has begun under tight security in the port city of Antwerp, where 46 members of the Islamist group Sharia4Belgium are being accused of recruiting dozens of young Muslims to fight for the jihadist group, Islamic State.

Sharia4Belgium, a radical Salafist group, was founded in 2010 with the purpose of implementing Islamic Sharia law in Belgium. The group generated controversy in September 2011, when it announced the opening of a Sharia Law court in Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium.

Although Sharia4Belgium announced its voluntary dissolution in 2012, when some of its leaders were imprisoned, Belgian authorities say it has continued to operate underground to recruit and funnel jihadists.

Belgium is a key source of European jihadists: Some 400 Belgian nationals are now estimated to have travelled to join jihadist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq. Of these, approximately 10% have been recruited by Sharia4Belgium, according to Belgian prosecutors.

Sixteen of the 46 defendants are charged with being leaders of Sharia4Belgium and face up to 15 years in prison, as well as fines of €30,000 ($38,000). The other 30 are charged with being members of the group and face sentences ranging from 12 months on probation to ten years in prison.

Only nine of the accused have appeared in court, however; the rest are believed either to be still fighting in Syria or to have been killed.

On the first day of the trial, which began on September 29, prosecutors told the Antwerp Criminal Court how members of Sharia4Belgium approach young men and women on the streets of Antwerp and Vilvoorde, a town just north of Brussels, and invite them to private meeting places in Antwerp.

Once in Antwerp, prosecutors say, the recruits are indoctrinated into jihadist ideology through intensive guided studies of the Koran and sustained exposure to Islamist literature. After their “brainwashing” into the subculture of Islamism, they are trained to become Syriëstrijder or “Syria warriors.”

“The activities of Sharia4Belgium are clearly aimed at violent struggle in Belgium and abroad,” Luc Festraets, one of the prosecutors, told the court. “Other religious groups are to be threatened and political regimes are to be overthrown,” he added, referring to Sharia4Belgium’s anti-Western propaganda.

According to prosecutors, Sharia4Belgium’s members are recruited through social media, but also by means of so-called street dawahDawah (Arabic for “invitation” or “summons”) refers to proselytizing, calling people to embrace Islam. Muslim preachers doing street dawah have become increasingly commonplace in towns and cities across Europe and have emerged as a key means to expose, convert and recruit European youth to militant Islam.

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Next time you think you’re under pressure at work…

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AIR STRIKE LOCATIONS (DoD)

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The most common way art is stolen

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The Islamic State readies for the “War of the Cross”

From Alakhbar English, by Radwan Mortada

The Islamic State (IS) is getting ready for the US military strike. In principle, it is “the Caliphate state. Its defenders will not run away. Islamic duty requires soldiers to defend the land of Muslims in the face of invaders, not run away and hide.” Tactically, slogans are absent. IS fighters are redeploying in preparation for what they call the “War of the Cross.” The strategy of resistance is varied but the objective is one – “to remain steadfast as long as possible.”

Although IS sources admit that it is impossible for their military equipment to stand in the face of the West’s airborne arsenal, they speak of a “strategy of resistance that the Crusaders have no capacity for.”
“The Hour (of Resurrection) will not come until the Byzantines land in al-Amaq (valleys in Antioch, southern Turkey) or in Dabiq.” This is a Hadith (saying) of the Prophet Mohammad that jihadis are repeating frequently these days. Dabiq is a Syrian village located to the north of Aleppo where, they believe, a great battle is going to take place, which the Muslims will win in the end. According to their interpretation, the Byzantines represent the “Crusader West.”

Based on this Hadith, followers of the IS conclude that the confrontation will begin with a US strike which will pave the way for this battle. For them, it is “an inevitable divine promise that will prove to the world that we are the masters of the State and builders of the end of time Caliphate.” What confirms their deeply-rooted belief in this prophecy is the English-language magazine they began issuing months ago called Dabiq… The Return of Khilafah.

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Opponents say Obama will need ground troops against ISIS

Chris Carroll, Start and Stripes

Conservatives pushed back Thursday against President Barack Obama’s contention that the United States can stabilize Iraq without committing U.S. troops to a ground combat role in the country.

In a speech to the nation Wednesday night, Obama outlined a strategy that called for increased U.S. air attacks in support of Iraqi forces, coupled with increased training of the Iraqi military. The president said 475 additional troops would be sent to support the more than 1,000 others already on the ground in noncombat roles.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., dismissed what he called Obama “minimalist” plan to the defeat Islamic State insurgents with the focus on air power. McKeon predicted that even in an advisory role, U.S. troops would likely need to do more, including fighting alongside Iraqi units, helping them with logistics and communications, and aiding in holding ground taken from the Islamic State, group also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“American boots will be standing on sand. Americans will be shot at, and they will be shooting back,” McKeon said in prepared remarks to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “There’s simply no other way to do this.”

He noted that U.S. reliance on airpower alone in the NATO campaign against the late Moammar Gadhafi had failed to bring stability once the Libyan leader was gone.

“We tried that in Libya, and it hasn’t worked,” he said.

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